Free up megabytes on your hard drives by identifying redundant files

I have a SSD (Solid State Drive) as my C drive. Sadly, it’s only 64 Gb, which means that it has room for Windows, and not much else.

Typically there is about a gigabyte free, which is not much, but because the swap file and other information is on my E drive, that’s all I need.

So I’ve freed up some space, I’ve walked away from my computer, came back to it an hour later – it says that it’s got no space! So what’s the problem?

Start a catalog

First thing I do – create a catalog of my C drive. I right-hand click on the C drive, and select “Filecats Standard” (though I could have also used Filecats Professional, Filecats Explore or Filecats Metadata). 9 minutes 39 seconds later, it has catalogued all 205,780 files and 42,190 folders on my computer; that’s 355 files a second.

Next, I put a filter on “Created” so that it will only show me the files and folders from today (today being 9 December 2014), and I put another filter on “File Type” and deselect “Folder” so that I will only see the files created today. This gives me 4,129 files in a spreadsheet, which I can now look down. Somewhere the problem is in here.

(You may want to try “Modified” instead of “Created”, just in case the problem is an Outlook .ost file that’s getting too big. But let’s stick to “Created” to start with.)

I also put a filter on the Size, so that I only see files about 1 Mb in size, if I figure that the problem is a new (or several new) big file. That reduces the number of files to 237 – a much more workmanlike figure.

Various filters on a catalog

So I still don’t know what the problem is. It could be a virus – not likely, since I’ve got Norton Internet Security. Or it could be a program updating. Let’s have a look at the start of the information.

Start of the catalog, showing new files in Sophos and iTunes

Straight-away I can see that Sophos is downloading some updates to its Anti-virus. That’s strange – I’m using Norton. So one way of saving space is by uninstalling unnecessary problems.

Then what? (And here’s the real problem.) I’ve got my iPhone plugged into my computer to charge, and iTunes is making a backup; and it consumed nearly a gigabyte of space on my C drive. Hundreds of files have been created in one folder. A little bit of research on the Internet, and I’ve solved my problem. (Incidentally, if you have the same problem, here’s a link to how the problem was solved. I’ve now got around 1Gb free, solving my problem.

So how much time did that take? Ten minutes to make a catalog; but I did something else those 10 minutes. Then literally 2 minutes to apply the filters and work out the problems, and a few minutes to research solutions. It took much more time to write this article than it did for me to solve the problem.

Could this have been done in Windows Explorer? Yes – however, each time I changed the criteria search, it could have re-searched all of files and folders again. Much quicker and more effective to create a complete snapshot in Excel, and then you can explore the data as you wish. I could have created additional analyses, table and graphs if I wanted to (and I’ve written articles on that, if you want to read them); but I’ve found my solution. Have you found yours?

If you want to try any of our Filecats programs, why not download them and give them a test drive. There’s a 7-day free trial.

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